High Net Worth Divorce and Child Support Payments

Divorce & Child SupportWhen couples with children split, usually one of the most contentious areas of divorce is care of the children. Custody arrangements and child support are often hotly contested issues.  According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, child support payments in the U.S. average $430 month.  However, in the world of the rich and (sometimes) famous, monthly child support payment requests are often in the tens of thousands of dollars range.  Compared to the national average, the child support payments for high net worth individuals often sound extravagant and ridiculous!

While a $25,000/month child support payment sounds absurd to most of us, child support is heavily based on the financial resources of the parents and the standard of living the child would have had if the marriage/relationship had continued. And, in many high net worth divorces, there is often a large income gap between the two parents.

California, a uniform guideline exists for the calculation of child support payments and child support is based on the income of the parents, the amount of time spent with the child, and some other additional factors. California law states that children should share the standard of living of both parents and family code S4053 states “child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of both parents.”  So even though it sounds ridiculous to most of us, it’s pretty clear how many wealthy couples end up embroiled in child support battles involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

Here are 5 of the highest child support awards we know of over the past few years:

1.  Kirk Kerkorian.  This billionaire was the owner of MGM and a Las Vegas magnate who was ordered to pay a whopping $100,000 a month to ex-wife Lisa for a child his ex-wife has admitted is not his biological daughter. In this bizarre case, Lisa acknowledged during a child support battle that she had faked a DNA paternity test by using saliva she obtained from Kerkorian’s adult daughter. Kerkorian is the legal father of the child because the couple was married for a short period of time.

2.  Sean “Diddy” Combs.  In total, Combs pays almost $42,000 a month in child support. Combs was ordered to pay ex-girlfriend and model, Kim Porter, $20,000 a month for their son, Christian, and almost $21,782 to another ex-girlfriend, Misa Hylton Brim, with whom he had a son, Justin.

3.  Charlie Sheen: This high profile actor pays a total of $105,000 a month in child support. Sheen pays $50,000 to Denise Richards for their two girls, in addition to the $55,000 a month he was ordered to pay to Brooke Mueller for the support of their twin sons.

4.  Russell Simmons. In February 2009, the hip-hop mogul agreed to pay $40,000 per month in child support for his daughters Ming and Aoki with ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons, who has sole custody of the two girls.

5.  Francois-Henri Pinault. Though the details of the settlement have not been made public, Supermodel Linda Evangelista recently sued Pinault, the father of their 5 year old son, for $46,000 month for support.  Pinault makes about $4 million a year, and Forbes estimates his family’s net worth at $13 billion.  Evangelista was criticized for making what appeared to be an outrageous request for child support, but then again Pinault apparently lives a very extravagant lifestyle with wife Salma Hayek and their 4 year old daughter. We probably won’t ever know, but many speculate that the outcome was likely somewhere in the five figures a month range.

Child support laws differ from state to state. If you are interested in learning more about child support in California, please visit our website for more detailed information. Or, feel free to call us for a free consultation at 714.841.1931.

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